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Sports briefs for June 7, 2013

By BDN Staff and Wire Reports, Special to the BDN

Cony’s Morse signs letter to play for UMass Lowell

LOWELL, Mass. — Cony High School’s Sonja Morse, the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year in Maine, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the school announced Friday.

This past season, Morse spent time on the mound as well as shortstop and first base. As a pitcher, she posted a perfect 11-0 record with a miniscule 0.58 ERA. Morse also tallied 130 strikeouts in 63.1 innings pitched.

In the batter’s box, Morse posted a .549 average with six home runs and 26 RBI.

“We are very happy for Sonja and we are really excited to get her on campus,” said UMass Lowell head coach, Sean Cotter. “She is a hard worker who will make an immediate impact on our pitching staff.”

Sweeney will have his number retired at Maine

Former University of Maine two-time All-American center fielder Mark Sweeney will have his No. 12 retired by the university this fall. He will also be recognized at the Homecoming football game against William & Mary on Oct. 19.

The Holliston, Mass. native, who played at Maine from 1988-91, still holds 20 records at the school including games played (238), career at-bats (857), runs (240), hits (328), doubles (66), homers (52), runs batted in (211) and extra base hits (127).

He was a Third Team All-American in 1990 and a First-Team choice in 1991.

Sweeney joins shortstop Mike Bordick (3), pitcher Billy Swift (8) and coaches Dr. John Winkin (5) and Jack Butterfield (21) as the only baseball players and coaches to have their numbers retired.

Sweeney had a 14-year major league career and is the major league leader in pinch-hit RBIs with 102. He ranks second in pinch-hits with 175.

Sweeney is currently an in-studio analyst and dugout reporter for San Diego Padres games on Fox Sports San Diego.

Alonso sets fastest lap in Canada practice

MONTREAL — Fernando Alonso, desperate to get his Formula One championship bid back on track, signalled his intentions to start with this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix by setting the fastest lap in practice on Friday.

The Spaniard posted the day’s fastest overall time when he lapped the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in one minute 14.818 seconds during the 90-minute afternoon session.

Briton Lewis Hamilton, a three-time winner at the Montreal street circuit, was second fastest overall in his Mercedes, just 0.012 behind Alonso’s Ferrari.

Frenchman Romain Grosjean was third quickest for Lotus, while his Finnish teammate Kimi Raikkonen, currently second in the championship standings, was 11th.

Australia’s Mark Webber was fourth for Red Bull while his teammate, triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, could only manage seventh best and was expecting a close race.

Mississippi State football put on probation

Mississippi State’s football program was placed on probation until June 2015 and stripped of two scholarships per season by the NCAA for improper contact with a top recruit, who received impermissible benefits from a booster.

Former wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando, who resigned last August, failed to report a booster for providing a player cash and other benefits. The player — Memphis East cornerback Will Redmond — participated in the investigation but it’s not known if he confirmed testimony of his high school coach, who claimed he witnessed booster Robert Herring providing the items to Redmond.

“The booster befriended a top Mississippi State recruit and began arranging for him to use cars, gave him cash and provided other benefits,” according to the NCAA statement.

Yankees draft pick apologizes for comment

Pitcher Ian Clarkin, a first-round pick of the New York Yankees in the baseball draft on Thursday, apologized for saying that he hated the Yankees, ESPNNewYork.com reported.

“First and foremost, I want to apologize to all the Yankee fans for my comments,” Clarkin said Friday.

After Clarkin, an 18-year-old left-hander out of Madison High School in San Diego, was announced as the final pick, No. 33, of the first round, MLB Network showed a video in which he said his top baseball moment growing up was watching the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees on Luis Gonzalez’s game-winning hit off Mariano Rivera in 2001.

“I cannot stand the Yankees, so I was actually in tears I was so happy,” Clarkin said on video.

In an interview with MLB Network’s Sam Ryan after being picked, Clarkin said, “Now I do love them, and my dad’s going to have to learn to love them, too.”

On Friday, Clarkin said his father is a Pittsburgh Pirates’ fan and “not a fan of the Yankees.” Clarkin said it was more of a joke because his mother was born in New Jersey and is a die-hard Yankee fan.

Browns receiver Gordon suspended

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was suspended without pay for the first two regular-season games of 2013 and fined two additional game checks for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse.

Gordon is eligible to return to the Browns’ active roster on Sept. 16. He is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.

“In February, I was diagnosed with strep throat for which a doctor prescribed antibiotics and cough medicine. Apparently, the medicine I took contained codeine, which is prohibited by the NFL policy,” Gordon said in a statement. “The policy terms are strict about unintentional ingestion, but the NFL has not imposed the maximum punishment in light of the facts of my case. Therefore, I have chosen to be immediately accountable for the situation. I sincerely apologize for the impact on my team, coaches, and Browns fans. I look forward to working hard in training camp and pre-season, and contributing immediately when I return in week three.”

As a rookie last season, Gordon made 50 catches for 805 yards with five touchdowns.

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